The Spark of the Appalachian Mural Trail

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Asheville mural selfie in front of the Chicken Alley mural, mural painted by West Virginia artist Molly Must.
Appalachia Mural- the Town of Appalachia’s WPA New Deal mural painted by Lucile Blanch in 1940.

“As a young girl growing up among the inspiring beauty of the Appalachian Mountains I became an artist,” says Doreyl Ammons Cain, Director of the Appalachian Mural Trail. “These mountains are overflowing with creativity, with so much art to be shared with the world!”

Doreyl Ammons Cain and her husband Jerry Cain are the spark that ignited the The Appalachian Mural Trail. This mural art platform is an online site dedicated to promoting murals that tell the story of the Appalachian Mountains.

After 10 years of research, the Appalachian Mural Trail came alive in 2016 with the help of Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area and the Blue Ridge Parkway Association. Both North Carolina and Virginia Welcome Centers, along with major attractions, are distributing Appalachian Mural Trail rack cards.

“Shining a light on our rich Appalachian heritage is the vision for the Appalachian Mural Trail. Murals created by artists living in the towns and communities, telling their own stories of mountain heritage with feeling, makes this an exciting platform designed to interpret mountain heritage,” continues Cain.

Asheville mural selfie in front of the Chicken Alley mural, mural painted
by West Virginia artist Molly Must.

The mural trail has now blossomed into a viable, expanding success with over 65 historical murals on the trail in North Carolina and Virginia. Some of the North Carolina members include: the Cradle of Forestry, Chimney Rock State Park, The Green Energy Park, the Frescoes of Glendale Springs and many towns and communities like Dillsboro, Elkin, West Jefferson, Downtown Asheville, just to name a few.

In Virginia towns like Appalachia, Marion and Stuart have joined. The mural trail now has a representative to handle more Virginia towns ready to sign their cultural murals to the trail. Any town, community or business in Virginia is eligible to be added to the Appalachian Mural Trail if they have a public cultural mural.

“People enjoy the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains through experiencing nature. Now visitors can learn more about our mountain ways as they travel into the towns and communities on a mural quest, a cultural treasure hunt!” says Cain. “We are inspiring small Appalachian communities to create their own high quality outdoor heritage murals; painting folk tales, Native American legends, mountain music and the beauty of the land. These murals are placed on our interactive website, muraltrail.com where website visitors can select and create a personalized mural trail route with directions. The Appalachian Mural Trail is designed to help the mountain economy through drawing high end visitors into the small, quaint mountain towns where they can dine, shop and find lodging along the trail.”

“We invite areas who already have murals to sign up. Simply go to www.muraltrail.com and select ‘membership’ and fill out a simple submit form. If you’d like to get started on creating your own historical mural, select ‘Partnership’ then fill-out the form and hit submit. All of your questions can be answered by selecting ‘contact the Director,” says Cain. “Gateway cities are also invited to sign their murals to the mural trail. Cities that are the doorways to the Appalachian Mountains, like Richmond Virginia.

A special website, www.muralspotting.com is available for the general public to upload pictures of murals they spot. The Appalachian Mural Trail will also select murals that may fit on the mural trail from the uploaded pictures. A free “I hiked the Appalachian Mural Trail” tee shirt will be given to those who upload to muraltrail.com ‘Selfy’ photos of themselves in front of an Appalachian Mural Trail outdoor cultural mural. These ‘Selfy’ photos are then approved and placed on muraltrail.com for all to view.

“We are especially interested in the WPA New Deal murals that were painted in the 1930s and 40s and placed in post offices throughout the country,” says Cain. “There are quite a few of the WPA murals in the Appalachian Mountains. Our precious mountain heritage and it’s amazing stories need to be shared with the world, thereby uplifting the way we see each other and telling the truth of who we really are, talented creative folk who love to tell a good story!”

The Appalachian Mural Trail has ignited a spark of creativity that’s spreading for the world to see. Find out more at muraltrail.com.